how to lighten darkened leather


How To Lighten Darkened Leather?

Leather is an amazing material that may be used to make a variety of goods. These leather objects frequently have a good appearance and can be pretty stylish. Many leather owners want to learn how to lighten darkened leather and improve the appearance of their leather products.

Do you have any leather items that are a little darker than you’d like? Or do you have a leather item that has darkened over time and would like to lighten it? You may, however, choose to lighten your beloved leather shoes, bags, wallets, and other accessories. You’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll explain six simple methods on how to lighten darkened leather, even if you’re not a handy person.

Leather Preparation:

Before beginning the process of how to lighten darkened leather, you must first prepare the leather’s surface to guarantee that it receives the solutions that will make it lighter. Here are some good methods for preparing your leather item for this purpose.

Get Rid of the Dirt on the Leather:

The dirt that has accumulated on the surface of your leather item may remain trapped on the surface of your leather item after the lightning process is completed. Using a vacuum cleaner, remove any dust from the leather, or use a brush to swiftly remove grime. Make careful use of a good brush that will not damage the leather.

Deep Cleaning the Leather Item:

You can go a step further by cleaning the leather with a damp cloth or towel to remove the dirt residue. The leather could be completely cleaned by soaking the rag or cloth in a light liquid soap or saddle soap.

A suitable leather cleaner would perform properly, as they are designed to clean leather effectively while also caring for the leather piece. As a result, you can use a leather shoe and boot cleaner to clean the leather footwear that you want to lighten.

how to lighten darkened leather
The Chamberlains Leather milk is a recommended leather cleaner and conditioner for furniture, bags, coats, and other leather products. It is a natural way to remove dirt, stains, and grease from leather surfaces. This solution softens the leather and efficiently prepares it for the leather lighting process. After cleaning the leather item with a moist sponge or rag, dry it with another cloth.

Allowing the Leather to Dry:

After wiping the moist leather, let it air dry and keep away from direct sunlight, which can cause the leather item to crack and tear. After the leather has dried, you can begin the process of lightening it.

Whether you’re whitening your leather to match the color of other leather pieces or just for pleasure, it’s preferable to use the proper techniques.

Some of the more efficient methods (on how to lighten darkened leather) are as follows:

1. The Soap and Warm Water Technique

2. How To Lighten Darkened Leather – The Oxalic Acid Procedure

3. The Method of Neatsfoot Oil or Mineral Salts

4. The Re-Dyeing Process

5. How To Lighten Darkened Leather By Painting

6. Treatment with Fine Sandpaper


How To Lighten Darkened Leather – Details

1. The Soap And Warm Water Technique:

Using saddle soap and warm water to brighten your leather items is a simple but efficient method. This procedure is so simple that it doesn’t even necessitate treating or removing your leather products.

To use this procedure, simply apply a tiny amount of saddle soap and water to your object, then wipe the area with a clean cloth until dirt begins to come off the surface.

Warm water will aid with the breakdown of dyes, oils, and stains that have given the leather item its current darkened appearance. This strategy is fantastic because it is risk-free. It should undoubtedly be one of the first things you try before considering more intrusive or aggressive therapies.

When leather appears darker, especially if it was formerly lighter, one of the key contributory elements is the accumulation of dirt, stains, and body oils. Getting rid of these can significantly lighten your leather.

Another thing you can try to lighten your leather items with soap and warm water is to clean them more than once a month with saddle soap or mild dish soap and warm water.

Cleaning your leather products more frequently with warm water and soap may result in significantly lighter leather over time. You can speed up the process by drying the leather item in direct sunlight after cleaning it with soap and water.

Although soap and warm water will work best, if you do not have enough time to go through the process of cleaning your leather items with soap, you can simply wipe your leather with warm water and then dry it under direct sunlight.

It is vital to note that you must condition your leather once you are satisfied with how light it becomes.

See also  How To Patina Leather Faster? | Real Retro Research

2. How To Lighten Darkened Leather – The Oxalic Acid Procedure:

How to lighten darkened leather? One of the finest ways to lighten leather is to use oxalic acid. If you’re not handy but want something a little tougher than water and soap, this is what I’d recommend.

This is a simple option if you don’t want to mess with anything complicated.

Oxalic acid can be purchased at most hardware stores or even on Amazon for a reasonable price, so you won’t have to break the bank to try this method.

The disadvantage of oxalic acid is that it is difficult to determine how much you will need because leather reacts differently from surface area to surface area.

You may need several jars of this stuff before you get any kind of satisfying results; however, once you do, all your hard work will be rewarded! In some cases, you’ll notice the lightness after just one application.

The oxalic acid lightening technique is fairly simple, but it does take some time to achieve the desired results, and the color will not alter any more after that, so make sure this is what you want before beginning!


1st Step:
  • Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from any reactions or irritations.
Step Two:
  • Apply deglazer to your and a microfiber cloth. Check that the deglazer isn’t pouring or soaking wet. Rubbing alcohol or acetone can also be used.
  • It’s a good idea to wring out the cloth before applying it to the leather.
Step Three:
  • Now, start applying the deglazer to the surface of the leather item. You should accomplish this by gently rubbing the deglazer on the leather’s surface.
  • Continue rubbing until the topcoat or finish begins to flake. This is frequently visible on the surface of your rag.
  • You can keep cleaning and turning to clean different portions of the rag. This is significant because, over time, your rag will become quite dirty or stained with color and dye.
4th Step:
  • After thoroughly rubbing the deglazer into the leather’s surface, allow it to air dry for a couple of minutes.
5th Step :

Combine one part oxalic acid and one part warm water. This will produce a bleach solution that will aid in the removal of some of the colors from the leather.

You can make a considerably stronger solution by increasing the amount of oxalic acid in the water.

6th Step:
  • Rub the oxalic acid and warm water solution over the surface of the leather with a clean microfiber cloth. You want to be as thorough as possible so that no patches are left behind.
7th step:
  • When you’re finished, let the treatment dry and watch the magic happen as your leather lightens up wonderfully.
  • At this point, you should also be observing so that if the outcomes are not as expected, you can redo a couple of the preceding procedures.

You can also dye your leather at this point if the hue does not quite fit your preference. More on dying leather to lighten it later!

8th step:
  • Thoroughly clean and condition the leather item. Cleaning the leather item will aid in stopping the reaction of the oxalic acid solution on the leather’s surface.

3. The Method of Neatsfoot Oil or Mineral Salts

Thinking about how to lighten darkened leather? Try using neatsfoot oil or mineral salts. With the use of an applicator, this is an excellent organic alternative that will work on any sort of animal skin or synthetic material such as imitation suede, nubuck, and other artificial materials.


Step 1:
  • To make it easier to apply neatsfoot oil or mineral salt to the surface area you wish to whiten, combine one tablespoon of neatsfoot oil or mineral salt in two cups of water.
  • Keep this combination between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit before applying it since as it dries, its efficiency diminishes and it may potentially destroy your leather item due to too much heat.
Step 2:
  • Wipe down the surface with a clean cloth to remove any dirt, dust, or grime.
  • Using an even circular motion, apply the mixture to the chosen surface, ensuring that it penetrates as deeply as possible into each nook and cranny to lighten them up.
Step 3:
  • Leave the application on for 5 to 10 minutes before wiping it away gently with a dry cloth. If you want more powerful lightning power, you may also use an old toothbrush – just don’t brush too hard!

4. How To Lighten Darkened Leather – The Re-Dyeing Process:

Another alternative is to re-dye the leather material using a suitable colorant or pigment, such as white RIT dye, which will significantly lighten the material.

Re-dying your leather can help lighten it since it replaces the natural color with a lighter, brighter shade, while certain dyes may blend with existing hues to generate a new color.

You should be aware of what you’re getting yourself into ahead of time to avoid disappointment. This normally works best if you first apply an acidic chemical to the leather’s surface before beginning.

You can combine water with an acidic beverage such as vinegar or lemon juice to assist eliminate some of the natural oils in the leather material, making it appear lighter overall: however, never keep this on for more than five minutes!

Using vinegar or lemon juice will perform similarly to bleach; however, as previously said, always wear gloves when working with bleach. Bleach should not be used near delicate textiles such as suede or fur. Rinse thoroughly after application because residual residue can cause issues later on.

This is a simple but effective approach to lighten up your leather with no effort. Furthermore, dyes are rather affordable. Let us now go into the substance of this strategy.

What You’ll Need:
  • Bleach, although lemon juice or vinegar would suffice. (Be sure to wear gloves and thoroughly rinse!)
  • Ivory dishwashing liquid or other basic all-purpose liquid soap or detergent
  • A spray bottle of water
  • Latex Gloves
  • A few drops of whatever general color dye you choose to use on your leather, such as red or blue. These are available in craft stores.

If you don’t have a store nearby, just use the lightest hue you can locate on websites like or eBay. Just make sure it’s permanent fabric dye or acid-free textile paint!

Step 1:

Collect some old towels and use them to protect the surfaces of any other materials in the vicinity from being stained by the excess dye. For the greatest outcomes, keep this process as clean and accurate as possible!

  • You should also put on your rubber gloves for this.
Step Two:
  • Follow the instructions on the dye package you choose to mix your leather dyes.
Step Three:
  • Once the dyes are ready, soak your leather item in the dye if feasible. You should leave it in there for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • I personally do not like immersing my natural leather goods in any kind of liquid. Instead of soaking the leather item, I normally load a soft microfiber cloth with the dye and rub it across the surface of the leather.
  • If your piece’s colour isn’t fading quickly enough, add more dye. The concentrations of various brands vary. All you have to do is experiment to see what works best for you!
Step 4:
  • After soaking or rubbing the dye on the surface of your leather item, remove it and thoroughly wash away any dye residue.
  • If you dipped your leather in the dye, you should rinse it under cool running water to remove any excess dye. Alternatively, you may just wipe away any excess with a damp cleaning rag or cloth.
Step 5:
  • Allow the leather item to dry overnight or for a day to see the change. The drying period will vary depending on how wet the leather was when colored.
  • If you’ve absorbed the majority of the moisture after rinsing, drying should be faster than if there’s still extra liquid.
Step 6:
  • Use a leather conditioner to restore any natural oils that were lost during the dyeing or washing process of whitening the leather.
  • To see the full effect, make sure your leather has completely dried. Leather that is still wet can be difficult to work with.

5. How To Lighten Darkened Leather By Painting?

Another option for lightening your leather is to paint it. You can re-paint the leather object with paint, acrylics, or even watercolors. While this is not the most ethical approach to polishing leather.

This is due to the fact that when leather is painted, practically all of the natural grains of the leather are covered. While this process will help you achieve a lighter appearance for your leather item, it will not leave it with a natural finish.

To paint leather, start by applying a primer in the desired color. To maintain the finish, apply two coats of paint before sealing it with clear varnish.

The varnish extends the life of the leather.

6. Treatment With Fine Sandpaper

Continuing our discussion about how to lighten darkened leather? The fine sandpaper treatment is undoubtedly the most terrifying method of whitening your leather. This process scrapes away very fine grain layer particles from the leather’s surface, revealing a lighter tone of the leather.

Wet or dry sandpaper can be used for the fine sandpaper treatment procedure.

Fine grits are used to lighten black leather objects that have not been exposed to water or other elements that could cause color damage, but coarse grits are rarely utilized.

You’d also have to be careful not to ruin the surface of the leather too much, even if the sandpaper granules are incredibly small.

All you have to do is carefully brush the tiny sandpaper across the surface of the leather to progressively lighten it.

Tips: How To Lighten Darkened Leather?

  • If you truly need a lighter version of a leather item you already own, one simple solution is to acquire it.
  • One key thing to remember when lightening leather is to test the dye on a small piece of leather beforehand.
  • Removing extra liquid is critical: if you’re using dry rice or silica, this can help suck out any moisture in the pores so that the conclusion of whitening your leather isn’t affected.
  • When lightening with bleach, be in mind that utilizing chlorine bleach will not only lighten the leather but may also create discoloration.
  • When conditioning your leather to make it lighter, you should be careful to select the proper sort of conditioner because some may contain pigments or dyes that will change the color of your leather.

Bleaching leather will eliminate some, if not all, of the oils, resins, tannins, and other substances incorporated into the leather during the manufacturing process. This also means that the leather will absorb more water and may become dry, brittle, or fracture.

  • When lightening using bleach, apply a degreaser to assist remove any residue before conditioning the leather. • Lightening waxed leather will be considerably more difficult and will never come out light.

Rubbing your leather objects with something like acetone will not only brighten them but will also diminish their color. So, in certain circumstances, you may need to polish up the leather item again after you’ve achieved the desired light look.

FAQ’s: How To Lighten Darkened Leather?

Does alcohol discolor leather?

Unfortunately, alcohol can cause the leather to deteriorate. Leather is especially vulnerable to drying agents such as sunshine, chemicals, and alcohol. While alcohol is an excellent cleaner, it is also a drying and oxidizing agent. This is why I usually recommend starting with leather cleansers before moving on to alcohol cleaning.

 Can fake leather be bleached? Don’t use bleach on any stain. Bleach is the most drying agent you can use on faux leather, and it will change the structure of the fabric, making it more prone to subsequent marking.

 Is rubbing alcohol safe on fake leather?

Depending on the faux leather range, ethanol-based alcohols or bleach disinfectants can be used to disinfect and remove severe stains (in line with cleaning and maintenance recommendations).

Does leather get darker over time?

Some leather not only darkens with age, but it can also lighten under specific situations, such as being in the sun or under bright lighting for an extended period of time. In general, dyed leather loses some of its colors with time, becoming lighter.

 Does acetone lighten leather?

Yes, because it removes the leather finishing.

Apply some acetone or leather deglazer on a soft cloth and saturate it.

Check that the fabric is damp but not unduly saturated with the solution; wring out the cloth piece to eliminate excess moisture.

Is acetone bad for leather?

Acetone not only destroys the leather’s wear layer (upper side – i.e. grain side) but also the tanning components and fiber structure.

The leather becomes brittle, cracks and even holes can form.

Acetone is a very poisonous chemical that is extremely hazardous to the human body.

 What causes leather to darken?

The darkening can occur when oils, such as body oils or leather conditioner, begin to clog the pores of the leather (if too much has been used).

Preventing darkened leather is best accomplished by preserving it with a leather conditioner and doing regular spot cleanings before it has a chance to darken.

How do you fade leather?

With a little rubbing alcohol, sandpaper, shoe polish, elbow grease, and approximately twenty minutes of your time, you can transform rigid new leather into a soft, tastefully faded replica of its former self.

How do you make a dark couch lighter?

One simple approach to brighten up a room with a dark sofa is to add lighter-colored curtains, throw blankets, or area rugs.

Combine one of our dark sofas in Elyria with a pair of vibrant colorful throw pillows.

Softly colored drapes will also quickly brighten the room.

What does bleach do to leather?

Never use ammonia or bleach-based treatments since they are too harsh and can ruin the natural finish of the leather. When cleaning, water should also be used cautiously because too much liquid might generate stains of its own. Cleaning cloths should only be moist (rather than fully saturated or leaking).

 Can you put nail polish remover on leather?

To remove the discoloration, use a non-acetone nail polish remover.

Nail paint remover may require several attempts to remove the stain, so allow the leather to dry between each try.

Non-acetone nail paint remover has the advantage of not bleaching your leather, but it may not be powerful enough to remove the stain.

Does nail polish remover damage leather?

Non-acetone nail polish remover is intended to dissolve nail polish, however, it may take several attempts and may dry out the leather.

While rubbing alcohol may quickly remove the stain, it would most likely dry out the leather.

 Does sunlight lighten leather?

If you spend too much time in the sun, your skin will brown, dry out, crack, and become unhealthy.

If leather is left out in the sun, it will darken, dry up, and crack.

It will cause your leather to age prematurely, reducing its suppleness and strength.

 Can you fix darkened leather?

Use a soft cloth and a leather cleaner to thoroughly clean your leather.

Smooth across the entire surface.

In a pinch, you can use sunshine to achieve a lighter tone.

However, be cautious and always apply a good conditioner before exposing your leather to the sun.

 Does hydrogen peroxide bleach leather?

Dab the leather with cleanser rather than rubbing it, which spreads the loose ink about.

To bleach out the ink stain, carefully and precisely follow the ink lines with a thin small paintbrush dipped in bleach or a professional grade hydrogen peroxide.

It will bleach the leather and slightly harm it, but that’s fine.

What happens when you put bleach on leather?

Never use ammonia or bleach-based treatments since they are too harsh and can ruin the natural finish of the leather.

When cleaning, water should also be used cautiously because too much liquid might generate stains of its own.

What happens if you put hydrogen peroxide on leather?

Peroxide should not be used on the leather since it will saturate the leather and remove the dye system. Blood penetrates nubuck and suede leather and usually results in a new tint.

 How do you whiten leather?

To Clean White Leather

Try Vinegar + Oil:

In a spray bottle, combine 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup vinegar.

Spritz the stain, wait five minutes, and then wipe it away.

Avoid using bleach or ammonia-based cleaners at all costs because they can damage the leather.

What does rubbing alcohol do to leather?

Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean leather and is effective at removing almost every stain known to man. Rubbing alcohol is excellent for cleaning leather surfaces, whether they are your sofa or your motorcycle jacket!

How do you whiten yellowed leather?

A very powerful leather cleaning mixture can be made with as few as three or four drops of dish soap and warm water. Use a microfiber cloth or a lint-free rag to apply the solution to your leather products.

How do you deglaze leather?

Wet a soft cloth with acetone or deglazer and gently massage it over the leather in a circular motion.

Some of the dye in the leather, as well as any top coatings and oils, will be removed, making the leather simpler to work with.

Does saddle soap darken leather?

Saddle washing products are inexpensive and widely used, but they aren’t always the greatest option for maintaining your fine leather saddle and gear in peak condition.

Soaps have a high alkaline content, which can harm and discolor the leather.

Can you lighten dark brown leather?

Discussing how to lighten darkened leather, you can use oxalic acid. You might also try to lighten a leather item to match other leather items in your collection. Because the procedure of lightening leather does not guarantee results, test in an inconspicuous region before lightening the complete piece.

Thanks for reading ‘How to lighten darkened leather?’

Similar Posts